We Have The Power
I am truly baffled with The Groton Herald editorial asking us to support our town. Flip flopping on issues that will have a negative affect on our town is something I can't support. This 18,750 sf central fire station at the estimated cost of $7.5 million is not about need; it's about greed. I was taught to stand up for my convictions no matter what. I will stand and fight for what I hold dear to my heart.
Who are the town boards really representing? Not the less fortunate, apparently. The message that many of us hear is; if you can't afford it - move. We understand that a central fire station is needed but at what cost to all taxpayers? Are we to destroy a beautiful piece of farmland on our most scenic road because it's going to be built on by others? What private landowners do with their own money is their choice. But when the town uses our money then we have the power to say "No".
A building of this magnitude is not going to make Groton a safer place. Those who believe it, are sadly mistaken. Buildings shelter us from the elements, but it's the people that risk their lives that help keep us from harm. According to MFIRS (Massachusetts Fire Incident Reporting System, in 2010, Groton had a total of 487 reported responses. Of that 36 were fires, 10 over pressure rupture and explosions, 88 EMS incidents, 80 hazardous conditions (no fires), 120 service calls, 10 good intent calls, 139 false alarms, three severe WX & Natural Disaster calls and one Special Incident Type.
When there are car accidents, flooded basements, gas leaks, medical emergencies, they must respond. When our five full-time fire fighters/Emts are out on these calls, who will be manning our three fire stations when the four-alarm fire call comes in? And who will be driving the fire trucks that are parked in the six bays to the fire?
FEMA states there is a "direct correlation between staffing levels and performance quality." According to a series of fire articles published in 2005 Boston Globe, by investigative reporter Bill Dedman: "Fire departments are not only taking longer to get to fires, but often arrive at the scene with too few people to do the job safely. Such inadequate response increases property damage from fires, and the risks to the occupants of burning buildings. It also endangers the men and women who fight the fires." www.boston.com/fires. The biggest fire station in the land will not guarantee that your home will not burn down.
OSHA's regulation, known as "Respiratory Protection Regulation (29 C.F.R. 1910.134), is known as the Two In/Two out rule. It requires four fire fighters to be on the scene of a fire before interior operations may begin. The only exception is rescue operations.
If we spend all our money on a building of this magnitude where will the money come from to hire full time fire fighters? Where will the money come from to staff the fire stations? Where will the money come from to buy new equipment? Where will the money come from to cover their operating budget? The art of compromise is about placing need over want. We can approve the 18,750 sf fire station design but require it to be built in three phases (every 20 years). A Sustainable 6000 sf central fire station is sufficient in today's climate and 1/3 of the cost. Don't forget we have two other fire stations.
On Oct. 15 at the Fall Town Meeting tell our town boards to go back to the drawing board and come up with a central fire station that meets today's needs without destroying farmland. We have the power to take back our town by voting Yes on Articles 10 & 11 and voting No to extension of sewer and changing zoning to Public Use.
Maria JK Hars
Long Hill Rd.